Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Greetings

Christmas is the day 
that holds all time together.
-Alexander Smith

Merry Christmas, you. Happy, bright, cozy, warm Christmas to you.
This Christmas, I'm praying for joy in the midst of sorrow... hope in the midst of fear... plenty in the midst of want...

...and peace in the midst of trouble.

May the One who holds us all together keep you until we talk again. 

Love- Brin

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Updated: A Letter at Christmas

I got a comment today. No, actually, we got a comment today. You and I did. We got a comment on the Christmas Candy post from a dear lady. I read it before I even got out of bed this morning and it took the breath right out of my lungs. While I'm writing a response to her, please read her letter/comment. And please, let's love this woman and pray for her together.

Here are her words. Click her letter to enlarge.

Dear "broken",

First things first, it's going to be okay. You are going to be okay. Things may not look better today, and they may not tomorrow, but you are going to survive this. Beautiful lady, you can do hard things.

You mentioned in a follow-up comment that you feel you have no right to the feelings you shared above. After all, aren't people throughout the earth living unspeakable horrors? Let me stop you right there. You are completely justified in feeling everything that you are feeling. Feeling broken... sad... hurt... overwhelmed... empty... at the brink... these are very real emotions. God you gave you your emotions. He gave them to you for a reason. Please don't minimize what you're feeling just because someone somewhere else has it "worse". You have every right to feel exactly how you feel today. Please give yourself that.

In 2009, I went to the office of a trusted counselor and pastor. I dumped my enormous heart-load of grief over losing my beloved Freeman House, my Jeep, my bakery business... and then seeing death take someone I loved... at this person's feet. And then I did the same thing you are. I apologized. I felt guilty. I said, "Who am I to whine and cry when women are being held as sex slaves? When women are struggling to feed their near-starved children? I hate myself for crying over my sad little first-world grief.". 

And I'll never forget with this man said. He looked at me for a moment, searching my face, and then leaned forward. "Hey. Wait a minute," he said. "Forget for a moment about them. Forget about people you see on the news. Look at your life. Is this an extremely difficult time for you?" 

"Yes," I whispered.

"The hardest time you've lived through?" he asked.

"Definitely. Yes," I answered.

"Then that's all that matters. For you, for your life, this is as hard as it's been. This is the biggest, all-encompassing difficulty you've faced. These are your hard times. No wonder you feel as you do. You can't compare your grief with someone else's. You can't grade your emotions based on some cosmic sliding scale. Emotions don't need to be justified. Your heart doesn't work that way. This is the hardest blow it's taken, and that's all that matters. It's okay. Really, it's okay."

I say the same to you.

No one knows exactly what you're going through... exactly what today involves... but you. Well, you and God. But my gosh, I swear that I understand that empty, God-less feeling you described. I remember feeling so raw... so open... and so devastated that the loving God of heaven seemed so far when I wanted someone most. The only thing that comforted my mind- not even my heart, really, but my brain- was that Jesus knew what I was feeling. That He hung, raw... open... and seemingly devastated that His loving Father of heaven seemed to be fading out of the picture when He wanted Him most. My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me? Now I'm not Jesus, and my suffering could in no way be compared to His, but I borrowed His words anyway and took some solace in the realization that, just as He did for Jesus, God had a plan for me.

He has one for you, too.

Why does it involve cleaning your proverbial slate? Removing jobs, cars, comfort, home, and people you love? I don't know. Why is He allowing it all at once? No clue. I can say, though, that it was some of the same for me... that sudden, Job-like devastation... like a life tornado that ripped away everything. I don't know why He allows that to fall in some of our lives... except that He sees all, knows all, and is working it all for good for us. Blech. That's the last thing you want to hear in the middle of the tornado- when everything's whirling- but it's truth. It will all come right, some day or night.

I'm glad you commented. I'm so, so glad you did. Because now I know your name. Because now, because you shared your story, I see that God is still in the business of working in lives in dramatic ways and that I am not alone in my story. But mostly, I'm glad you commented because now I can pray for you- pray hard for you- and pester God about you and your situation and your devastated heart. And when you can't pray, I can. When you have no words for Him, I'll have plenty. When you can't complain, I'll complain. When you don't have the faith to trust that God will hold you during this time, I will. I will stand in the gap with and for you, G, until He gives you a crown of beauty for your ashes and a beautiful dress of praise for your old pajamas of despair

Please know you're not alone. Please know God hasn't left you. And please know that even in your despair, your beautiful heart is testifying to the courage, strength and might God has placed in you. You are going to be okay.

"Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on their God." Hold on, my heart. Hold on, hold out.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas CrockPot Candy Recipe

I couldn't go on and on about this deliciousness and not post a recipe again, right? Where's the Christmas fun in that? So please, take this recipe and run to the store and then home to your crockpot. 

For more information (including tons of comments and other tips!), see the original post about this candy here. Happy candy makin' and eatin'!

Christmas Crockpot Candy. Yes.

 Y'all. I made Christmas Crockpot Candy this weekend. Oh my. Y'all. Oh my.

Just looking at these pictures makes my mouth water. Is it time for lunch yet? I want to go home and sneak a piece now....

What are you doing tonight? I'm planning to sit in front of the tree and continue addressing Christmas cards while drinking foamy, marshmallow-y hot chocolate and chowing down on this candy. Y'all. Do yourself a Christmas favor and make this ASAP.

It's Christmastime! Can you believe it?

Monday, December 1, 2014

December Already?!

It's December already, folks. December! Already! Can you believe it?

How was your Thanksgiving? Our Thanksgiving was a blur of blessings. Family, food, friends... it was crazy. I would give anything to be able to take Monday (today) off. That I-need-a-vacation-after-my-vacation thing, you know? Ah well. I'm grateful I have a job to go to!

Sunday afternoon, I was determined to get a great picture of Millie and Maggie for Christmas cards. A great one. Like, minted.com great. Well. Um. Ahem. No. Didn't happen. Millie rolled on the ground until her hat came off. Twice. Maggie's Santa hat either slid down onto her back or covered her head so well that once glance had you asking: What is that thing underneath that hat? Ha. In the end, I got this picture and decided to go with it. Merry Christmas, Christmas card people.

Pet photographers, you have my deepest admiration. 

My goodness, y'all. Can you believe it's December already?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's Okay Again

I am amazed by the effect of lighting candles and serving dinner at the end of a long day. No matter how tired, frazzled, frustrated or overwhelmed a person is, a hot meal and time at a candle lit table seems to set things right, if only for a moment.

In an effort to get out of debt and buy a ramshackle house with a big porch, I am doubling down on our finances. This means I am working overtime trying to get super affordable, no-nonsense homemade meals on our table every night. (Super affordable because.... hello. And no-nonsense because the old guy does not do pumpkin ravioli or roasted butternut squash thingies, no matter how hard I try. Ahem.) I'm learning that as long as I treat meat as an ingredient- not the star of the show- I can stretch our meal budget much farther... and not hear him in the kitchen two hours later fishing crackers out of the cabinet. Oh yeah. I got this.

Last night I made Cheesy Ham and Scalloped Potatoes in the crock pot. Turkey ham ran $4.50 at the store, and I used half of it. By making my own soup/sauce and using the ends of random cheese in the fridge, I figured this cost about $8 to make four large servings. Very large servings. Although I wouldn't call this health food, I would call it It's-30-degrees-outside-and-this-was-warm-and-cheap-and-filling-and-the-crock-pot-did-it! food. 

To avoid the gray, Campbell's blob in a can, I made my own cream of mushroom. Yay! Creamed soup is okay again! Usually I use fresh mushrooms, but today I used canned organic ones like these in water. Fraction of the price, and comes with mushroom "broth". Takes just a few minutes and we control the ingredients. Win! Try it if you have the time or inclination:

Love this. Especially since every good holiday recipe has cream of something in it. Green bean casserole, anyone? 

I tell you: we girls at home are powerful. We put the home in a house. We turn straw into gold. (Or stuff in the fridge into dinner.) We are amazing. Let's light our candles and fire up our crock pots and show the world that family, home and love are alive and well and matter.

We got this, girls.  -Brin

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Friday, November 7, 2014

Thoughts and Hands

My thoughts are on Thanksgiving- family, hymns, a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, the turkey, blessings, and pies. But my hands are a whole other story. 

My hands are on Christmas.

I'm making ornaments for the nieces. Knitted things for friends and relatives. Crafts for loved ones....
...And a small Christmas quilt for us. I pieced it while still at Freeman House but never got around to finishing it. Don't you think it's time?

I love November.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Canfest of 2014

I think I just picked my last tomatoes of the year. And my last strawberry. It is November. Thank ya, Texas.

Know what I've discovered in the last year? That we eat a LOT of tomatoes. It's astonishing. From raw in salads and on tacos and sandwiches, to stewed in chili and soups, to crushed in goulash, pasta sauce and salsa- we know how to massacre a tomato crop.

Which is all fine and good. Except by August, I was so sick of canning tomatoes that I started freezing them. Then our small freezer got so full that we went and bought a chest freezer. Now IT is so full that I'm giving frozen quarts of stewed tomatoes away and I've gone back to canning them.

What an incredible problem blessing to have, right?

I can remember writing Proverbs 14:23 as a handwriting exercise in second grade: All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. Today I would write: All hard work brings lots of tomatoes, but mere talk leads only to paying $2/can at the store so I guess it's worth it if you don't go crazy first.

Good thing I didn't write the Bible.

If you're interested, a how-to for the best stewed tomatoes on the planet is here. Heck yes.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday Moment: Hard Won, Not Bought

Stores have beautiful roses. Markets have gorgeous tomatoes. But I usually grow my own-- roses and tomatoes. I grow them because I like gardening, even if it is hard work. Year after year, there I am, planting, weeding, staking, pruning, and watering.

Some things are sweeter- better- when you've gone through something for them, I think. 

Maybe truths work the same way.

I read Streams in the Desert nearly every day. This morning there's a beautiful reflection on how truths, values and character come into our lives. They are not "blown randomly across our path by wayward winds", Mrs. Charles Cowman writes, "for great souls experience great sorrows:

Great truths are dearly bought, the common truths,
Such as we give and take from day to day,
Come in the common walk of easy life,
Blown by the careless wind across our way.

Great truths are greatly won, not found by chance,
Nor wafted on the breath of summer dream;
But grasped in the great struggle of our soul,
Hard buffeting with adverse wind and stream.

But in the day of conflict, fear and grief,
When the strong hand of God, put forth in might,
Plows up the subsoil of our stagnant heart,
And brings the imprisoned truth seed to the light.

Wrung from the troubled spirit in hard hours
Of weakness, solitude, and times of pain,
Truth springs like harvest from the well-plowed field,
And our soul feels it has not wept in vain."

My oft-plowed heart field has seen truth after truth spring up: that God is good, even when I doubt it the most. That we are perfectly loved, even when we feel it the least. That the places where we've lost hope are simply the places where we're believing a lie. And that we will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of living.

The common, "group think" in life comes easy. Let's be the people who live by truths.

Let's keep planting our tomatoes and fighting thorns for our roses.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lessons from the Hospital, and Where I've Been All Summer

I am grateful that I didn't let fear get the best of me. 
It only holds you back from possibilities.
-Mariska Hargitay

It started in June. Life was fine. Busy, but fine. And then one bright, hot day in June, I started bleeding. And I bled. And bled. And bled.

We knew something was wrong by July. We wanted to go look at a pickup truck he was interested in buying, so we drove about an hour away to check it out. I fell asleep on the drive up. I never fall asleep in cars. Never. Not ever. The next morning, he asked me why I wasn't getting ready for church and I told him I didn't have the energy. He took one hard look at me and announced we were going to the hospital.    

It took two nurses trying three cuffs to find my blood pressure in triage at the ER. I remember feeling tired but otherwise okay, but suddenly I was in a wheelchair getting hooked up to machines. Hours later, the doctor came in. Lab work had some markers and as soon as they stopped the bleeding and got my blood pressure up, he was releasing me to see my doctor. And then he asked if I had a family history of endometrial/uterine cancer. I told him my maternal grandmother had recently undergone chemo. He looked down at my chart, and said quietly, "I wish you both the very best." And he called the nurse in and left.

Thus began the biopsies. The ultrasounds. The hysteroscopies. I'd leave work, go in for a test, and get back to work. I focused on running my small business, making dinner, folding laundry, getting the dogs to the vet, and keeping up with our church and social life. I threw fits sometimes in the shower. And I prayed often, but usually for other people, because when I thought of myself, I'd cry. 

Then came the call. The doctor wanted to go over results with me and could I come in blahblahblah? Nurse friends had already told me that if I got that call, it was over. I had cancer. Because if you don't have it, they'll just tell you over the phone. So I trudged in to the doctor's office, was shown to an exam room, and sat in the chair closest to the old magazines, staring at the floor tiles and trying to think of everything- anything- outside of that exact moment.

And in that moment, I realized something that shook me profoundly. I felt like someone was blowing a trumpet inside me, filling my ears and shaking me to my core. I was living lazy. Who was I to live so... nonchalant and purposeless? See, there was still so much I wanted to do. There was still so much I wanted to be. For instance, I've always wanted to kayak. To be a kayak-er. To be one of those girls who shrugs into a life jacket and slides onto the water and looks out at the deep and paddles toward it. And what do I do? Pin things on Pinterest and watch Netflix. I wanted to be the girl who sees the world and writes it down. And what do I do now? Take the shortcut home from the grocery store and lock myself inside the house. (Ebola and ISIS is out there, for heaven's sake.) I was losing myself and losing my dreams, and it took this cancer nonsense to scare me back to reality.

By the time the doctor pushed open that exam room door, I felt like a new girl. So when she told me that we'd need to re-do a test and start me on this medicine but it didn't look like cancer, all I could do was nod. And think about my kayak. I couldn't wait to get out of there and go to a boating store.

That was August. We still don't know what's wrong with me, but for now, medicines do seem to be helping. I talk to my doctor every three weeks and we're still watching for cancer and searching for an answer.

And in the meantime, I shrug into a life jacket and slide onto the water and look out at the deep and paddle towards it. I have bought kayaks and hit the lake when I can. I'm trying to collect experiences- moments- laughs- and put them in my treasure chest of a heart. I'm trying, as Jesus advised, not to worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. I'm grateful, and I'm not letting fear get the best of me. 

It'll only hold me back from the wonderful, wonderful possibilities.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hats and H-U-G-S for the Homeless

Knitting not only relaxes me,
it also brings a feeling of being at home.
-Magdalena Neuner

I have been knitting a lot this summer. A LOT. Like my fingers are on fire. I knitted Alicia's bunny dress and a gorgeous cowl and, most recently, hats.

Hats, hats, hats. Big hats, baby hats, hunting hats, soft hats, and... 'homeless hats'.

You may remember a few years back when Renee, the homeless lady, moved in with me for a while. Since, I've had homeless friends who have shared their hearts and their concerns- safety, having enough, family, being wanted. (Turns out, we're all the same.) But you know one thing I keep hearing? That people need socks. Underwear. And with fall quickly approaching, hats and gloves.

I feel as though I need to do something. I need to do more.

If you're a knitter/crocheter and want to help, I know folks who will gladly accept your donations of handmade hats and gloves. Please get in touch if you're interested.

In the meantime, I'll be here knitting and feeling grateful for my home and praying for those who have none. Me, and my supervisor Maggie. 

*wink*  -Brin

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Giraffes and Birthdays and Summer and I'm A Terrible Blogger

I know, I know. I'm a terrible blogger.

Later this week, I promise to come back and fill y'all in on my summer. It's been...- insert that one perfect word I can't come up with to describe this summer here-. Yeah boy.

In the meantime, please occupy yourself with beholding the giraffe I cobbled together from this pattern for our niece, Ella. She turned four on Sunday. When I asked what she wanted for her birthday, all I got was a long pause...and then something about "raffes".

Our other niece's birthday is in three weeks. She requested an elephant. Looks like felt and fabric pieces will continue to be swept under the couch for awhile.

See y'all soon. Honest. -Brin

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Cool Cucumber Conundrum

It will not always be summer;
build barns.
I'm here, under a pile of cucumbers. Hey there.

The cucs are going crazy this summer. Every day, I come in with my nightgown or shirt or basket (depending on the time of day) weighed down like too many kids on a saggy trampoline. My, do we have the Boston Pickling cucumbers. Cool cucumber conundrum, though, huh? So I did what any pioneering housewife would do: I made pickles...
...and I made pickles...

...and then I pickled more pickles. Spears and slices and whole cucumbers. If you even so much as looked my way this weekend, you got salted and pickled in vinegar and spices. 
Have I told you that I think war is coming? If one does, come to my house and we'll eat pickles and blow our pickle breath on anyone that gets too close. That's my strategy, anyway. We'll outlast everyone. You'll see.

Anyway. Have you ever made pickles before? I hadn't. I followed the super easy directions for Dill Spears in Put 'em Up! and was very pleased with the results. Quick and crunchy. If you like to can anything at all- or if you want to try- I can't recommend this book enough. It will help you turn your cool cucumber conundrums into... what-the-heck-do-I-do-with-all-these-pickles-would-you-like-a-jar-of-homemade-pickles-please-PLEASE? conundrums.

I'm here for you like that. ;) Happy pickling and canning this summer! -Brin

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday Moment: These Earthly Bodies

This body that I live in decided to come down with bacterial tonsillitis. In June. The nerve! Super high fever in June in Texas= blahyucknasty. It also equals turning down the A/C to the mid-60s while sitting in front of a box fan hugging one of those frozen ice blocks you put in coolers to keep drinks cold. Yeah. I've left this view from my couch only to work, shove a few dishes in the dishwasher, keep the laundry going, and pet and feed dogs. 

These earthly bodies we're staying in, huh? They're incredible, perplexing, exasperating, beautiful things. I'm amazed at how age draws lines on our bodies. How injury and illness carve parting scars. How blood lines birth predispositions. I'm in awe of how vulnerable bodies are... how fragile breath seems, and yet how strong these bodies can be... how resistant to attack and how indomitable the spirit they house can remain.

I have a friend who believes war is coming. Hunger. Illness. Suffering unlike anything we've seen. I'm inclined to agree. Some days I give in to fear for my body... and those of the ones I love. So I drag my carved-fragile-resistant-indomitable body to the couch, sigh a sigh, and pray. And I read. And somehow, tonsillitis and threats from within and without and worry about these earthly bodies quiets and I am confident again...

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies 
we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. 
Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, 
for then we will be at home with the Lord. 
So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please Him.
-2 Corinthians 5:6-10

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Unwritten Rule of Summer

It's the unwritten rule of summer: when it's warm and you're driving under a sky filled with lazy, puffy clouds, you must pull over at the country roadside stands. You must.

Especially when they sell strawberries you can pick yourself. And peaches they just picked themselves.

And especially when they have red new potatoes, still dusty from the soil. And jams they canned right there. And cold, bottled fizzy drinks from yesteryear. Then you really must stop. It's the rule.

If you're ever in Pittsburg, Texas, stop at Efurd Orchards. And when they offer you a free peach still warm from the tree, think of me.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

No. Just...No.

Sauerkraut is tolerant, for it seems to be a well of contradictions.
-Julien Freund

Let me tell you about a well of contradictions. Because I can. Oh, can I!

First of all, sauerkraut is not tolerant. At all. Does it look pretty in the garden? Yes. Is it fun when you cut it open? Uh-huh. But I tried to make sauerkraut, y'all. I narrowed my eyes and cracked my knuckles and sharpened my knife and I tried. After carefully picking, washing and slicing my home-grown heads, I salted and pounded and cheese-cloth'd and waited and ... ... and...

...no. Just...no. Sauerkraut does not naturally happen like all those online recipes say. My batch sat for two weeks and never so much as changed color. Still green. Still crisp-ish. Still... odd. I threw it in the back compost before anyone discovered it and mercilessly teased me. Or, heaven forbid, ate it.

You know those girls who make their own poptarts and tea blends and such? You girls ridiculously rock. For me, some things are just better from the store.

Well of contradictions. Harrumph....

Monday, May 26, 2014

If We're Gonna Lose Our Skin...

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; 
perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; 
struck down, but not destroyed.  
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, 
so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
-2 Corinthians 4:8-10

Awhile back, I planted onions. I started their lives in a dark, hostile environment and watched patiently as seed turned to tiny, weak wisps of green that would collapse every time it rained. I got down with them when it was time, pulling away weeds that would choke them... chasing off pests that would kill them... nurturing life and waiting, patiently, for them to respond and grow.

And then, you know what happened. Just as the onions appeared to be coming into their fullness, into their good place, the heat came. In Texas it comes early and hot. And the onions do what onions do- their proud, tall tops bend under the conditions and that beautiful green ends up in the dirt. All that growing, all that height, and it shrivels away. The dying begins. And you know what? That's when I know they're ready.

See, an onion is supposed to come to life. It's supposed to grow. But what's of use to me isn't really all the showy, green tops that everyone who's visited my little garden bed comments on. No, what's of use to me is the root. What I'm after is the deep stuff that's been tucked away where no one can see. And it's only after all the pretty/showy dies away that I know my onions are ready to really be used. That's when I know they're mature.

A lot like God does, I guess, with our lives.

The Gospel of Jesus is radical. It's hard. But our American culture has been sold the lie that a weepy-eyed Jesus is off in heaven just waiting to give everyone good lives if only they'll try hard and be great examples and not mess up their lives and raise good kids. But the Bible paints a different picture. The Bible paints an onion picture. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.

Come. And die.

I pulled onions this week and braided them into thick, gnarly braids so they can dry and I can use them. And the entire time, I thought of how my life, really, has been so much like those onions-- growing, getting wiped out by rain, growing again, bending in the heat, and finally learning to die.

Clarke's Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4 says that we are "every moment in danger of losing our lives in the cause of truth, as Jesus Christ was. We... are ready to offer up our lives for him. There is probably an allusion here to the marks, wounds, and bruises which the contenders in those games got, and continued to carry throughout life." It goes on to say that it's so the life of Jesus might be be made openly known, so "that in our preservation, the success of our ministry, we might be able to give the fullest demonstration that Jesus is risen again from the dead."

So we are living the life of an onion, we are struck down but not destroyed, we are bid to come and die, so that we may be poignant, air-permeating, bring-tears-to-eyes-strong demonstrations that Jesus died, but now He lives.

I don't know what you're going through. I don't know where you've been this past year. I don't know if you're seed... a thin, wispy bit of green... a top-flopped in the dirt... or a pulled-and-hung-on-display-to-die so that you can be used person. Gosh, I don't even know if you're an onion. But I do know that those who are have a 2 Corinthians 4 "so Jesus may be revealed in your body" moment coming, and that's spelled: immortal, heavenly and blessed.

So hey you. You take heart. You lift your weary head. You raise your voice and cry out to the Onion Maker that You hear His call, and that you will live a life and die a death worthy of the calling you have received. If we're gonna lose our skin, let's lose it well.

You have my heart and prayers, fellow onion.  -Brin

Monday Moment is a little devotional to help kick start your week. See you again next Monday!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday Moment: Simple Like a Strawberry

There's a gal I really admire from afar that you have to meet.

Her name is Abbie Jean.

If you like my Monday Moments, you'll love her entire blog, Simple Like a Strawberry.  When I read this post, it made my heart happy. It also made me realize there's no way I could have said it any better.

So in lieu of Monday Moment, I'm sending you over to Abbie's. I hope you guys are blessed by her heart as much as I am.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wildseed Farms

It is cold today. Cold and drizzly. In Texas. In May. It's crazy. I love it.

The weather is reminding me of a visit to Wildseed Farms. Last fall, I took a Texas tour and drove wherever I felt like. So much fun. We found this cafe that served the most amazing breakfast ever and went there three days in a row. We floated the River Walk in San Antonio and drank Dr. Pepper from the original bottling plant in Dublin and ate killer pizza in Dallas and stayed at The House of the Seasons in Jefferson, among many other things. Not bad for November, we thought.

One of the places I was hoping to visit- but really didn't think we'd have time- was Wildseed Farms outside of Fredericksburg, Texas. In my mind, we could load up on pumpkins for Thanksgiving... but most importantly, flower seeds. Seeds I could plant and then save so one day my grandkids could be picking flowers alongside an old farmhouse and tell stories about how Granny Brin planted the seeds and would you believe the flowers still bloom today... (and so on, etc.). At least, that's how I explained my two buggies full of seeds and pumpkins. Ahem.

If you're ever around Fredericksburg, make a trip out to this farm. It's gorgeous. Their seed store is so inspiring! 

If you can't make it down to the farm, you can always order online and plant a little piece of Texas no matter where you are.

I think I may go and plant some of my Wildseed seeds now while it isn't too hot. I promised myself a legacy garden, after all...

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Seed Law

There exists, in your life right now, a very unyielding and very powerful force... a force that we will, for today, call The Seed Law.

Never thought much about this force? Well, maybe you should. See, The Seed Law is stubborn. It's always at play. And because of Who designed it, it never misses a thing- not a word, not a deed, not anything.

It's The Seed Law, my friends.

The Seed Law is simply this: You reap what you sow. But hey, before you scoff and start scrolling, know that there's more to it than meets the eye.

I mean, what is a seed? The dictionary says it's "a flowering plant's unit of reproduction", meaning that it's how every flowering thing passes itself on, or ensures that it will leave life behind even after it dies. In other words, seeds are the beginning of something that continues to develop and grow. They are just the beginning. And they continue to GROW.

Take my British Wonder and Green Arrow peas, for example. I started back in February with just a few seeds- twenty, I think, of the British Wonder. The tiny, insignificant-seeming things were planted and then I went about my life. Then today, some three months later, I went out to find that those 20 seeds have now produced hundreds, possibly thousands, of its kind. That's a miracle of the Seed Maker and an important lesson of His Seed Law: you reap what you sow. But not in the same quantity. Heck no. Seeds multiply. They continue to develop and grow far beyond what you planted. Plant one, get back hundreds.

It's important to note here, also, that like seed produces like seed. I planted British Wonder seeds and got British Wonder peas. Therefore, you get exactly what you sow. If you sow good, you get good. But the reverse works, too: sow bad, and you definitely get bad.

It's The Seed Law. Sowing good= lots more good back. Sowing horrible= lots more horrible back.

So let's make this real. Because of The Seed Law, what you are doing and saying today MATTERS. These tiny, insignificant-seeming words that leave your mouth... the tiny, who-cares-or-sees things you do, they matter. They are seeds going into fertile ground, my friend. You sow vicious gossip and you'll reap heaps of vicious gossip back on yourself. Sow encouragement and you'll reap a bounty of encouragement back in your own life. Sow sin and you'll reap sin. Sow righteousness and you'll reap righteousness. How you live today matters.

I was reminded of The Seed Law as I picked peas this morning. I thought of that rude thing I said to someone this weekend. That phone call I keep letting go to voice mail. That gift I never "have time" to deliver to a friend in need. Ouch. How I'm living today matters.

God, give us the grace to remember Your natural laws, and help us produce good and lasting seed in our hearts and lives today!

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. 
A man reaps what he sows. 
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; 
whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 
-Galatians 6:7-8

Monday Moment is a little devotional to help kick start your week. See you again next Monday!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

I Made Blueberry Bars Again.

I don't know who was more excited- me, or the folks who are getting leftovers.  :)

I'm thinking of you all this Mother's Day, especially those those who've lost a mother, lost a child, or long to be a mother. Have a blessed and peaceful weekend.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Remembering Blueberry Hill

I'm growing blueberries in clay pots this year. As I search and pray for an old farm place to renovate, I find I'm impatient to start it all: berry patches, orchard, gardens- all of it. So blueberries in a pot will have to do. And you know what? They're doing just fine!

This is a Climax blueberry, which crosses with a Tiffblue blueberry, which is perfect for blazing, humid Texas summers. They're also perfect for muffins, cobblers, jam, ice cream sauce and salads. Heck yes.

Each day as I water them, I can't help thinking of Blueberries for Sal. Do you know this book? A teacher read it to me ages ago, and my older brain still projects images of the beautiful pictures of Blueberry Hill every time I glance at the blue-dotted bushes. In fact, I think I need to re-read it this week....

Wishing you a Blueberry Hill kind of day. Happy Tuesday!

Oh! My first job was on a blueberry farm. Read about it here. 
 And make my favorite Blueberry Breakfast Bars with this recipe.

Monday, May 5, 2014

What Can? Nothing.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, 
neither angels nor demons, 
 neither the present nor the future, 
nor any powers, 
neither height nor depth,
 nor anything else in all creation, 
will be able to separate us from the love of God 
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
-Romans 8:38-39

What, then, can separate you from His love? Can your illness? Can unpaid bills? Can quiet desperation? Can grief? Can failure? Can your loneliness?

What about your questions? Can they keep His love away? What about your past, your present, or your future? What in your life, today, can separate you from the love He's loving you with?

Nothing. Nothing can.

Nothing can.

Take heart. You, take heart. Because this thing you're facing- fighting through- working out- barely surviving- it ultimately is powerless over you or what matters. Because Jesus loves You, and He has made promises to You that He will keep.

He will keep.

What can separate you from Love Himself? Nothing.

Go in peace today.  

Monday Moment is a little devotional to help kick start your week. See you again next Monday!